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Asia: Shares mixed in muted trade after Wall St rally

Thursday, August 13, 2015 - 10:31
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Asian shares were mixed on Thursday, as an afternoon rally on Wall Street gave investors room to breathe after concerns about China's economy jolted global financial markets.

[HONG KONG] Asian shares were mixed on Thursday, as an afternoon rally on Wall Street gave investors room to breathe after concerns about China's economy jolted global financial markets.

The dollar inched higher, after taking a knock in New York from speculation the US Federal Reserve will delay hiking interest rates following China's devaluation of the yuan.

Tokyo opened flat, easing 0.23 points, Sydney added 0.57 per cent and Seoul dipped 0.1 per cent after the South Korean central bank left its key rate at a record low.

Hong Kong added 0.60 per cent and Shanghai rose 0.19 per cent in early deals.

China cut the rate of the yuan against the dollar for the third consecutive day Thursday, reducing the reference rate by 1.1 per cent from the previous session.

The reduction comes after two previous cuts, on Tuesday and Wednesday, sparked concerns that China's economy, long an engine for world growth, is weaker than previously thought.

The move fanned fears the Chinese currency could be set for a prolonged depreciation and send shockwaves reverberating through global financial markets.

Commodities along with stocks in Europe and Asia fell, safe-havens gold and bonds rose and currencies in Asia-Pacific suffered their worst two-day selloff since 1998.

But an afternoon comeback on Wall Street, led by Apple and energy stocks, and news China's central bank had intervened to stop the yuan tanking on Wednesday cheered dealers.

The intervention "is a hopeful sign that the authorities are not shooting for a maxi-devaluation," Tim Condon, head of Asian research at ING in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

In Tokyo forex trade, the dollar fetched 124.30 yen early Thursday against 124.24 yen in New York late Wednesday.

The euro exchanged hands at US$1.1156 and 138.67 yen compared with US$1.1159 and 138.63 yen in US trade.

Oil prices were mixed on Thursday after edging up from a six-year low in New York on news US oil supplies declined and the dollar retreated.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September fell three cents to US$43.27 and Brent crude for September rose five cents to US$49.71 in morning Asian trade.

Safe-haven gold fetched US$1,121.23 compared to US$1,117.50 late Wednesday.

In individual shares, Australia's Telstra fell two per cent to A$6.12 after the telecoms company said annual net profit fell one per cent A$4.23 billion after the sale of Hong Kong mobile business CSL.

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba closed more than five per cent lower in New York at US$73.38 after a disappointing quarterly report showed sales growth cooling.

AFP